Almost Famous - Bootleg Cut review by The Grim Ringler

Almost Famous-Bootleg Edition

I already reviewed the film proper, though in an alternate version, so I wont shilly-shally with my masturbatory praise of what has suddenly become one of my favorite all time movies.

Much like The Lord of the Rings, Cameron Crowe has taken what was already a very well made, very thoughtful film, and has made it even better. The original theatrical version of the film was a very beautiful love letter to music and was a wonderful love story, buried deep down beneath all that great rock. In this longer version of the film you get to see a bit deeper into the world of the band Stillwater, get to see more of who Kate Hudsons Penny Lane is, and get to see the longing looks that Penny and William the films main character share, hinting at the love they are beginning to feel for one another, even though neither has the guts to say what they are feeling. In this version, Crowe has added things to the film that are not leftovers, and that dont change what the movie is, but that enhance everything, making you more a part of this wonderful world he has created, and making you go oh GOD, so thats why that happened on more than one occasion.

Also like LOTR, the added material is sprinkled through the entire film, sometimes becoming entirely new scenes (such as a hilarious scene of the band doing a radio interview with a very spaced-out DJ), some are just addendums to scenes, but many are merely moments that strengthen the emotional depth of the film and that really show how strongly William and Penny begin to feel for one another. And its those moments that made me truly fall in love with this film. I liked it when I saw it the first time, and I liked it a lot. It said about music what I had always felt about it. People like me love music, live music, but we are not musicians, and we cant put how we feel and how the music makes us feel into words, not words that do the music justice, and Almost Famous said what we couldnt. It takes the love of music and creates something as simple, poetic, and beautiful as the best song, and it says what we lovers and fans never had the words to do justice to something that affects us so deeply. But seeing William and Penny, as they will steal glances at one another, watching as they watch each other, it makes the movie so much more. Its a romance suddenly, but better than that, its a romance that doesnt pander or glorify. William sees Penny for what she is, sees her at her best and worst, and the more he sees, the more he loves her. And while she can never say it, she falls in love, in her way, for William for whom he is, and not for what he is. She shows him who she really is, beneath the nom de plume, beneath the Band Aid faade, but who she really is, deep down where no one sees. And that is what makes this movie so wonderful in its directors cut. Its Anna Paquins character saying goodbye to William the day after having helped to take his virginity, she giving him the kiss of a lifetime in the hopes that he will never forget her, a fear all these young Band Aids seem to fear the most that they are like a pop song, heard for a time, loved for a time, but easily forgotten. This directors cut is brilliant not because it has tacked on footage that was just there, but is brilliant because instead of showing you the concert, it takes you backstage and introduces you to the bloody band.

And there is a reason this DVD edition was so well regarded when it was released back in 2001 because this thing is packed. You get a really great commentary by Crowe, several of his Rolling Stone articles from his rock journalist days, some neat behind the scenes footage, the entire Stillwater Cleveland concert, and best of all, you get a wonderful deleted scene that shows how William convinced his mother to let him go on tour with Stillwater in the first place.

It is rare that a film affects me as deeply as Almost Famous did, but when it happens, well, it really feels like love. I just finished watching the thing last night and already want to watch it again. And while I am a movie nerd, there arent a whole lot of movies I can say that about. Almost Famous is about as complete a film as you can ask for. There are those movies, like Citizen Kane and M which change the way we look at movies and the way movies are made, and those are the movies which all other films are and should be judged. Then there are the movies like Almost Famous, Donnie Darko, and Rushmore which make us examine ourselves, who we are, and what we are about, and it is these movies by which we judge ourselves. And a great movie, like a great song, is something that never changes; it is always there, simply waiting for you to re-discover it again, and its the special songs, and special movies that seem to grow and change as you do, and that my friends is what this joyous little bit of celluloid and plastic is.


9 out of 10 Jackasses

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